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Singh hit all the right notes, says Balbirnie

Ireland captain admits Indian-born ace proved a point in defeat of UAE

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Game changer: Simi Singh was in impressive form for Ireland in Abu Dhabi yesterday

Game changer: Simi Singh was in impressive form for Ireland in Abu Dhabi yesterday

Ian Roman

Game changer: Simi Singh was in impressive form for Ireland in Abu Dhabi yesterday

"I don't know who didn't pick Simi Singh in the first game," was Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie's first response at the post-match press conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

The answer was, of course, himself and coach Graham Ford, but the skipper was delighted to eat humble pie after the India-born all-rounder became only the second Ireland player to score a half-century and take five wickets in a one-day international.

The result of his efforts - and the match - was a series-levelling 112 runs victory, despite the UAE dismissing Ireland's 'Big Three' inside 4.2 overs with just 10 runs on the board. Only once before had they had a worse start in an ODI - against Australia at the 2007 World Cup when they were bowled out for 91.

This time, thanks to Singh's highest ODI score and Curtis Campher's third half century in his first four innings for Ireland, they totalled 228-6, which was always likely to be too many for their hosts on a chronically slow pitch - if they bowled well.

Craig Young and Barry McCarthy should each have made a breakthrough in their first two overs only for Campher, diving forward, and Harry Tector, in front of his face, dropping two catches, which helped the UAE race to 45-0 after nine overs.

By that stage Singh - introduced by Balbirnie before Andy McBrine, the front-line spinner he had picked in that first ODI between the teams 10 days earlier - had bowled one over, conceding only a single.

Three balls into his second over, he tempted Zawar Farid to hole out to deep mid-wicket - Gareth Delany making no mistake with the catch - and when drinks were taken midway through the 18th over, Singh had figures of 5.3-1-4-4, already the best of his 47-match international career.

By the time he had bowled out, he had taken his fifth wicket and conceded just 10 runs, the most economical 10-over spell by an Ireland bowler and the fifth least expensive by anyone taking five wickets in 4,269 ODIs.

Modestly, Singh said it was "just one of those days when everything clicked".

He added: "The confidence from the batting went into the bowling, and the plan was pretty simple, just to bowl as many dot balls as I could, and once you get a couple of wickets you build pressure and get into rhythm, and I found the right pace on that wicket.

"The wicket was really difficult at the start but Harry (Tector) and Lorcan (Tucker) batted really well, and then Curtis, as he does, bats with great determination and I was just there to support him to the end. We thought 220 was a good score so were confident at halfway."

Campher was named man of the series for his 80 runs and two wickets and, although he failed to take a wicket yesterday, proved just as unplayable as the off spinner. Taking pace off the ball and bowling back of a length, he gave up just two singles in four overs as the UAE's early charge ground to a halt. After 18 overs, they were 51-4 and already halfway through the innings.

The serious stuff starts on Thursday and Singh admits this victory was the ideal preparation,

"With that momentum and such a big win you get a lot of confidence - and it's a personal boost for myself," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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